Proviso District 209 will open its new magnet school and enter the upcoming school year with a new interim superintendent and an increasingly divided board of education. Only time will tell whether the firing of Gregory Jackson as superintendent will benefit Proviso’s troubled student body or further damage a troubled district. But when such crucial decisions are made without input from parents, taxpayers, and even opposing voices on the board, everyone loses.

Thursday’s meeting to fire Jackson, which was just announced on Tuesday, drew a relatively large crowd for a school board meeting, but those who had hoped to gain some insights as to how the board came to its decision wasted their time. Questions, comments, and challenges from board members opposed to the move were repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by Board President Chris Welch. The only information given to the crowd was in the form of a vague prepared statement read by Welch, which did not address any of the concerns he had ignored.

Thursday’s meeting began at 6:30 p.m. and was adjourned promptly at 6:37. No matter what “Must See TV” episode began at 7, this is inexcusable. Of course, Welch and the rest of the board have probably had these conversations a million times behind closed doors, and repeating them once more for the crowd’s sake might seem a bit like a charade. It doesn’t matter. A board of education meeting is a public forum, and the taxpayers who will now be paying two superintendents’ salaries at the same time have a right to hear all sides of the story. The Review hopes that along with the new superintendent, the Dist. 209 board will turn over a new leaf and conduct its public meetings in a much more professional manner.

Do the math

As for the elementary schools, the Review understands that District 91 is working on a budget, and a non-state-funded summer school math program might well be a tight fit in that budget. Still, we are skeptical as to whether additional hours of regular instruction during the school year will do the trick of raising the district’s sub-par math scores.

For students who have just fallen a little behind, the extra hours might be all they need. But for those who are struggling with several subjects at once, summer offers an opportunity to use added free time to concentrate on particularly difficult topics. Perhaps average test scores will indeed go up, but we hope this does not leave those who need the most help even further behind.

While we respect Dist. 91’s decision to give the added hours a chance before considering paying out of pocket to add a summer school program for Math, we nonetheless urge the district to keep a close watch on any students who might fall through the cracks during this experiment. And if that happens, we believe a summer math program is the way to go.